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Prog Edition

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Moraz Alban Project
MAP

(Self-released)

The funky "Jungle Aliens" opens this debut effort from former Moody Blues and Yes keyboards man Patrick Moraz and his longtime friend, drummer Greg Alban. The set is all instrumental and a fusion of rock, jazz and world sounds with funk popping up regularly throughout. The duo is really doing some earthy cookin' on "Strictly Organic" where guest bassist John Avila (Oingo Boingo) plays incredible runs while Lenny Castro adds percussion to Alban's beat. Other guests include Dave VanSuch, at the forefront with his sax on "Canyon Afternoon," and Matt Malley (Counting Crows) who plays the slide electric sitar on "Mumbai-Manta," one of the proggiest cuts on the record. Don't expect overblown synth from Moraz here; there's plenty of his killer keys work but MAP is truly a band record.

Yuka & Chronoship
The 3rd Planetary Chronicles

Cherry Red

The frontwoman for this Japanese group is singer and keys player Yuka Funakoshi who has previously released several albums of J-pop in her homeland, and the album's bassist and producer also comes from the pop world having worked with Princess Princess. Here they go in a completely different direction with an absolutely sublime set of symphonic prog rock that is mostly instrumental except for two vocal cuts and some background cooing from Yuka here and there. The album's title refers to the third planet from the sun, our very own Earth, and four songs (all instrumentals) scattered throughout have the title "Birth of the Earth" but with different subtitles, while other tunes have titles that reflect significant eras in modern man's development, like the Moody Blues-ish vocal number "Age of Steam." This band does not sound like Pink Floyd but fans that like the Floyd's mellower efforts will love the excellent musicianship and laid back mood of The 3rd Planetary Chronicles.

Consider the Source
World War Trio (Parts II & III)

Techne

Consider the Source is bass man John Ferrara, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist (exotics like chattarangui and dombra) Gabriel Marin and drummer Jeff Mann and here they prove to be consummate musicians. Their sound is a fusion jazz-meets-world-music sort of prog; in "Aquarians" alone, the opening number of this 2CD set, they meld Balkan rhythms, jazzy time signatures and amazing Robert Fripp-like guitar solos. Mann is in the spotlight with the percussion-happy and Middle Eastern-flavored "One Hundred Thousand Fools" while the Space Age-y "You Are Obsolete," inspired by an episode of "The Twilight Zone," again gives a nod to Fripp and the mighty King Crimson. Other highlights include the effervescent "Ninjanuity," the seemingly Yes-inspired three-part "So Say We All" and "I'll Fight for the Imp," a fusion jazz number that the band wrote in a kibbutz in Israel.

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